Dehydrated foods make some of the healthiest snacks – when your snack cabinet is empty, grab a handful of banana chips, and you’re good. But the question most new cooks ask is, how do we dehydrate food at home for the first time? Do we need a designated dehydrator or some other machine to pull this task off?
Another important concern we come across is whether or not air fryers can dehydrate food. If you’re in the same boat, here’s what you need to know:
You can dehydrate food in an air fryer using its low heat settings and providing enough ventilating space to the food. Most air fryers come with pre-built dehydrating features that operate at lower temperatures than regular cooking. But if yours is a simple air fryer, don’t let its temperature exceed 150F while dehydrating, and you’re sorted.
If you want to be a pro at dehydrating and air frying a bunch of different foods, stick around till the end, and I’ll share some helpful hacks to help you get there!
What Is A Food Dehydrator Used For?
Dehydration is an old and heavily-used culinary practice to preserve different food items before their season runs out. Dehydrated meat fillets, dried fruit, and vegetable chips are among the most popular dehydrated foods/snacks in our kitchens.
Moisture in any food stimulates bacterial, fungal, and mold growth over time, eventually rotting it. But when we remove all moisture from the meat, fruit, or vegetable, its shelf life increases, and we can enjoy it for a longer period.
Apart from the preservation factor, food dehydration is an excellent technique to make crispy fruit and meat snacks like beef jerky, banana chips, etc.
A food dehydrator slowly blows warm/hot air over your food to dry its moisture contents and leaves it with a crispy exterior. Since a dehydrator uses a lower temperature than a conventional fryer/oven, it doesn’t entirely cook the food.
You can always use this dried food to make other recipes, i.e., beef jerky soup.
Can You Use An Air Fryer To Dehydrate Food?
Air fryers are practical kitchen appliances that make cooking easier and healthier for us. The biggest advantage of having a smart air fryer is that you can dehydrate food in it and save the cost of buying another appliance.
If you have an air fryer larger than 3 quarts, you can easily use it to dehydrate food and preserve it for munching later.
The biggest factor to consider while dehydrating food with an air fryer is its ventilation system. If your air fryer came with mesh trays and powerful vents, it would perfectly crisp your fruit chips and meat chunks.
Another factor impacting an air fryer’s capability to dehydrate is its heating capacity. Some air fryers are pre-set at high heat levels needed for frying; you cannot use these models for dehydrating as they’ll rather burn your food.
On the flip side, air fryers with programmable temperature settings and built-in LED screens can help you lower the temperature level and dehydrate food without burning it.
Air fryer ovens are ideal for dehydrating food because they have larger footprints and can house a large batch of cut food in one go.
How Do I Use My Air Fryer As A Dehydrator?
Now that we know air fryers can dehydrate food, it’s time to actually try this technique out. Even if this is your first time dehydrating food, you shouldn’t worry because an air fryer doesn’t require much effort to complete this task.
So take your air fryer out, and let’s dehydrate some food while we’re at it!
- First of all, thinly slice the food you want to dehydrate. Uneven and thick slices aren’t ideal for dehydrating, so carefully slice the fruit/meat you’re about to dehydrate.
- Next, plug in your programmable air fryer and set its temperature to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. You can tweak this temperature depending upon the food type – meats generally need lower and prolonged heating if you wish to preserve them for future use.
- Spread the food slices on your air fryer’s mesh tray and let it run for 1-3 hours – again, depending upon your desired food texture.
- While dehydrating fruits and vegetables, run the air fryer for 2-3 hours at 130. With meat, increase this duration to 4 hours at 110-130 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Once your air fryer’s timer beeps off, take the tray out to see if the raw slices have reached the desired texture/crispness.
- If you’re happy with the results, spread the dehydrated food slices on a towel/cotton fabric for 10-15 minutes before storing them away.
Make sure the food slices have enough space between them, and they get sufficient ventilation while the air fryer completes the set tenure.
Following these easy steps will leave you with perfectly crisped and dehydrated food slices ready to be preserved!
What Is The Difference Between An Air Fryer And A Dehydrator?
A designated dehydrator runs at lower temperatures than air fryers and blows consistent warm air over the food to dry its moisture. Most dehydrators operate between 100 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and you cannot use them for any other kitchen task.
Contrarily, air fryers offer a bunch of different features and help you with several cooking tasks. Air fryers can cook at much higher temperatures than dehydrators, so understandably, their cooking time is also lower. Frying, grilling, roistering, baking, and dehydrating are noteworthy features of a good-quality air fryer.
Which Air Fryer Has A Dehydrator?
Although you can use an air fryer to dehydrate food if it can run on low heat, some models are advertised as two-in-one machines that air fry and dehydrate simultaneously. Here are some popular air fryers that can also dehydrate:
- The Ninja Air Fryer
- Ninja Foodie Cooker
- Chefman Air Fryer
- The Power Air Fryer
If you’re unsure whether your air fryer can be used to dehydrate food, contact the manufacturer to get a verdict. rying electrical kitchen appliances for newer tasks is more about your skills and less about their specs. You won’t need a separate dehydrator once you get the hang of timing and heat levels in an air fryer.
A good-quality air fryer is one of the best additions to your kitchen. It helps you prepare healthy meals, saves cooking time, and above all, helps with several types of cooking.
If you’re a big fan of beef jerky or banana chips, you don’t need a separate dehydrator to satiate your cravings. Instead, learning to control your air fryer’s heat levels will suffice.
Make sure the food you’re dehydrating is evenly and thinly sliced, and there’s sufficient space between different slices for the air to circulate – your air fryer will take care of the rest!
How long does it take to dehydrate in an air fryer? Air fryers take 2-4 hours to completely dehydrate the food at 110-130 degrees Fahrenheit. If you use higher temperatures, the duration will reduce, but you might not like the final quality. So, choose the lowest heat setting and give your air fryer enough time to dehydrate the food.
Should you preheat the air fryer before dehydrating? Yes, preheating the air fryer for 2-3 minutes before you place the mesh trays inside and close the frying basket is a good step – it keeps the raw food slices from sticking to the trays.